Looking ahead to 2011-12
Those who've read here before know that I like to use the chart below as a cap space guideline... Here's the chart:
Top 3 Forwards - 27.5% or 17.68M
Middle 6 Forwards - 20.0% or 12.86M
Top 4 Defenders - 27.5% or 17.68M
Goaltending - 10.0% or 6.43M
Bottom 8 Players - 15.0% or 9.65M
--Scott Reynolds of the Copper and Blue
These rough guidelines sound good to me.
Each team, obviously, will be slightly different--a team like Philadelphia last season would have had four top forwards, for example, and teams like the Caps and Vancouver have a top-6 instead of a top-4. Still, let's see how this shakes out. As a bonus, I'll add the cap structure of the dominant 09-11 Chicago Blackhawks for comparison.
All salary information via Capgeek.
First, the Blackhawks:
I used $2 million for Brouwer and $3 million for Alzner. I used the top three forward cap hits for "Top 3 Forwards", next six for "Middle 6 Forwards", etc, except in the case of Alzner, who I slotted as "depth" (I saw him as interchangeable with Schultz in terms of money).
The number of depth players did vary slightly, and I used judgment calls in cases of deadline acquisitions. It does seem to me though that these Hawks have bargains at the top of the roster and at the bottom, and use the money saved to beef up the middle. The Caps are a forward-heavy, especially at the top of the roster. Luckily, they are very cheap in net.
In order to follow the model, the Caps should send out a top forward and a middle forward for cheaper options, and get back another D. I don't think that's what they should do, but it is clear to me that one or more top-9 forwards need to be traded (or put in the minors). The Caps will still be near the salary cap, but they could make this work while keeping the roster almost entirely intact.